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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Extra! Extra! Typhoid Mary Released, Woman Smokes at the Ritz

For Kit McNair and her rich, sociable friends, New York City in 1910 offered a panoply of delights and distractions. World records were made, firsts achieved, and non-stop notoriety rivalled the drama of Kit’s mock marriage and quarantine in When A Man Marries by Mary Roberts Rinehart.

A few highlights...

January: The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower is the world’s tallest skyscraper at 700 feet, and would retain that title for...three years. The opening is celebrated lavishly at the Hotel Astor.

February: The cook known publicly as ‘Typhoid Mary’ is released from her three-year quarantine. Mary Mallon had agreed to give up work as a cook after extensive education on hygiene. (By 1915, she would be taken in to quarantine again and remain there until her death.)

May: comet-mania hits fever pitch when the city embraces the coming brush of Haley’s Comet. For every day but two in May, the New York Times featured an article about the comet, including coverage of comet parties by the fashionable set and comet watching at the trendiest hotels.

December: The Ritz-Carlton makes headlines when the vice-president of the Ritz-Carlton Company decides not to forbid women smoking in their public dining room. One female diner shocked the city by sending smoke rings to the ceiling without concern for propriety, sending the waitstaff in to a scurry, unsure of how to respond.

Metropolitan Life Tower image source: typhoid
Mary image source:


When A Man Marries by Mary Roberts Rinehart
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